Inside a box 2 feet by 1 ½ feet in size lies a treasure trove of women’s suffrage memorabilia that sat undisturbed for over a century. Found by Libbie and George Merrow when they were cleaning out their Bloomfield, Connecticut, home last year, these hundreds of letters, newspaper clippings and photographs once belonged to suffrage leader Isabella Beecher Hooker, and provide a rare insight into the inner thoughts and workings of the 19th century women’s suffrage movement.

The collection includes 26 letters from Susan B. Anthony and 10 from Elizabeth Cady Stanton written to advocate, abolitionist and lecturer, Isabella Beecher Hooker (the half-sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe). What makes these artifacts so unique is that they are political, not personal. They provide a unique look into the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day maneuvering, by both key players and lesser-known suffragists, that went into securing women the right to vote.

“I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to hold a letter that she had held more than a hundred years before,” Kitt told the University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collectionsdepartment when she realized she was in possession of an actual letter Susan B. Anthony had written to Isabella Beecher Hooker. Kitt went on to explain, “It really shows you what these women went through. They really busted their butts for us.”